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Mercedes are ‘miles away’ from Red Bull: Hamilton

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Orange rush: Race winner Max Verstappen cheered on by thousands of Dutch fans at the Austrian Grand Prix. Credit: Clive Rose/Getty Images

Orange rush: Race winner Max Verstappen cheered on by thousands of Dutch fans at the Austrian Grand Prix. Credit: Clive Rose/Getty Images

Getty Images

Orange rush: Race winner Max Verstappen cheered on by thousands of Dutch fans at the Austrian Grand Prix. Credit: Clive Rose/Getty Images

Max Verstappen raced to a hat-trick of wins as Lewis Hamilton faltered to fourth in the Austrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen crossed the line 18 seconds clear of Valtteri Bottas with Lando Norris a supreme third.

Hamilton sustained damage after running on the kerbs at Turn 10, dropping from runner-up to fourth.

The seven-time world champion is now 32 points behind Verstappen following the Dutchman’s commanding win at Spielberg’s Red Bull Ring.

Hamilton was running in second for the majority of yesterday’s 71-lap race but was unable to keep Bottas and Norris behind as he nursed his wounded Mercedes.

Initially, Bottas was told by the Mercedes pit wall not to race Hamilton, hoping their star driver would be able to hang on to second and limit the championship damage to rival Verstappen.

But with Norris breathing down Bottas’ neck, Hamilton was asked to concede the position with 19 laps remaining.

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Two laps later, Norris, on the most impressive afternoon of his three-season Formula One career, then moved on to Hamilton’s gearbox before striking with a fine move at the left-handed sixth corner. The world champion pitted at the end of the lap and his chances of a podium were over.

Following his fifth race without a win, Hamilton said: “I already said before the race that it would be very hard to beat Max.

“It was frustrating to lose so much downforce on the rear of the car and not to be able to hold on to second. It is a lot of points lost today.

“I wasn’t going over the kerbs more than anybody else so I have no idea where the damage happened but there was a lot of damage. I would have finished an easy second and all of a sudden it broke.”

Hamilton added: “We are miles away from them (Red Bull) so we have a lot of work to do. We need all hands on deck.

“We have got to bring some upgrades and find some performance otherwise this will most often be the result.”

For Verstappen, there were no such worries as he cruised to his fifth win from nine races.

After holding off Norris on the run down to the opening corner, the Dutchman never looked back and his victory was greeted with huge cheers from the 60,000-strong Red Bull Ring.

“It is incredible for everyone to have delivered this,” said Verstappen following his 15th career win.

“Today has been amazing. It was insane to see all the fans and so much orange. It is great motivation for me, too.”

Norris finished third despite having to serve a five-second penalty for pushing Sergio Perez off the road at turn four as he ran through the gravel.

“It was a lot of fun, a good race, but I am disappointed because we should have been second,” said the McLaren driver.

“I thought lap one was just racing. He tried to go round the outside which was stupid. He ran off the track himself and I did not push him. I am frustrated but happy with third.

“It is the first race I have been able to race a Mercedes and hopefully we can keep it up.”

Perez finished fifth ahead of Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz and McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo. But Perez, also hit with two five-second penalties for forcing Charles Leclerc off the track twice, was demoted to sixth, promoting Sainz one place.


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